Home Office – ‘Don’t come back to Peckham!’                     

Organise community, youth & worker defence to stop immigration arrests & raids

Make Southwark a Sanctuary Borough, enforced by community action

Anti-raid mass action, Peckham 11/06/2022

Organise worker/student non-cooperation with the Home Office in schools, colleges, council offices & NHS, including strikes & walkouts

Police Out of Schools Now!

Full Amnesty Now for ALL those without papers

Support workers who are striking against pay cuts in Southwark & elsewhere – Unite the struggles against poverty and racism

Bring Down this racist, anti-immigrant, anti-working-class Government

Open the Borders of Britain & Europe – Organise sanctuary from the Home Office for cross-Channel refugees arriving in Britain

Join the Rally & Speak-Out

Saturday 20th August 2022

Assemble 12 Noon

Junction of Peckham High Street & Rye lane (SE15 5DW)

Please wear a mask on this event to protect yourself and others from COVID-19


On 11th June, Home Office officials from ‘Immigration Enforcement’ who went to Peckham and arrested a Nigerian immigrant living in Evan Cook Close were met with an instant community response. Neighbours turned out and blocked the van from leaving the street. They called their friends, Lewisham Anti-Raids Network and anti-racists in the local Labour Party. Soon, several hundred people from the local area were massed in that small street and stood their ground against police attacks for over four hours. Faced with a growing, militant mass of people the police had to release the arrested immigrant and withdraw, followed by chants of ‘Don’t come back to Peckham.’

This victory is part of Peckham’s proud history of resistance to immigration raids and the hostile environment created by Home Office vans in the area. Peckham does not stand alone. The victory on 11th June was part of a growing movement in integrated communities from London to Glasgow. Community resistance is defeating immigration raids by any means necessary, from mass mobilisations on the streets to simple actions to protect a neighbour or workmate or pass on a warning.

The victory in Peckham soon acquired a further political significance. Among the many Labour Party members who went to Evan Cook Close there were several local councillors. The leaders of the Labour Group that controls Southwark Council threatened them with disciplinary action but dropped that idea after angry protests. The next meeting of Camberwell & Peckham Labour Party voted overwhelmingly for a motion declaring that “The Labour Party has a duty to speak out against racism, injustice and violence perpetrated against any member of our community by the British state,” and agreeing to “Stand in solidarity with those opposing deportation raids” and “Organise training in resisting deportations and the hostile environment.”

The Movement for Justice (MFJ) welcomes and supports the stand taken by these Labour Party members. It is a direct and conscious challenge to the treacherous policies of Labour’s current national leadership under Keir Starmer, who ignore black & Asian communities, refuses to support the strikes of low-paid workers, and only criticises the government’s anti-refugee policies for not being effective enough.

Building on the victory in Peckham – Making Southwark a real, effective Sanctuary Borough

The victory on 11th June and the stand taken by Labour Party members are a base on which to build a more systematic community-based defense organisation to resist the Home Office presence in Southwark, uniting workers, refugees, immigrants without papers, youth, school & college students and established activist groups.

To stop immigration raids this will need to become more than an anti-raids organisation. Immigration Enforcement relies on a network of Home Office powers, connections, sources of information in council offices, hospitals, surgeries, schools and colleges, banks etc. Shutting that down requires workers, trade unions and schools refusing to co-operate with the Home Office, directly or indirectly.

For example, every hospital has an office that reports people who are denied ‘access to public funds,’ but it could not function if health unions organised a boycott throughout the hospital. Such campaigns are likely to involve demonstrations and strikes and will be sure to win community support.

In schools and colleges students are the vital force who will come forward with walkouts and occupations to defend fellow students & families threatened with arrest, detention and deportation. This has happened already, and the last few years have seen many student actions against racist school managements – like the mass protest in March at Hackney’s Petchey Academy against a racist sexual assault – the strip-search of a 15-year-old black girl by police officers who were called to the school by teachers and management.

There is no place for the police in schools. School management and the police are working together to control & repress poor, black, Asian & Muslim youth.

  Building our movement will require preparation and planning in individual schools, workplaces, union groups etc. where people can discuss and pledge to take action.

A real sanctuary borough will not be an empty name, it will provide real sanctuary from the Home Office. It will be enforced by the community, by the systematic community defense organisation MFJ is proposing.

Mass migration is a global rebellion against poverty & inequality – Open the Borders of Britain & Europe

The government’s people-trafficking deal to dump cross-Channel refugees in Rwanda is not an isolated horror. It is the outcome of four decades of escalating anti-immigrant policies and the uncontrolled capitalist exploitation that imperialist governments have forced on the world.

For over twenty years, millions of people have been leaving their homes in the world’s poorest continents and regions. They are leaving in increasing numbers and risking their lives, because there is no other escape from horrific wars and political, religious or ethnic persecution, from famine, drought, and the effects of environmental destruction, from the mounting attacks on women and LGBT+ people, etc.

Mass migration is a symptom of a world in crisis. It is a global rebellion against poverty & inequality, and it is a life & death struggle against imperialism. There are no compromises to be made in this conflict. The governments of Europe & the USA have militarised their borders and condemned thousands of refugees to drown at sea or die crossing deserts. Those governments pay the UN and poorer neighbours like Libya, Mexico and Turkey to hold back refugees and ‘contain’ them for years in huge over-crowded camps.

There is a battle between humanity and barbarism at every border. Refugees are posing a central demand for human progress in our age – Open the Borders – and they are opening borders every day to resolve real, material threats to their existence.

There are no humane deportations, no humane charter flights, no humane detention centres. The liberals’ plea for “Safe & legal routes” is a trap; it will leave the racist government in control and deny fundamental human rights: the right of asylum & freedom of movement.

The government and ruling class fear refugees and other immigrants from the world’s poorest, most exploited countries. They fear the qualities those refugees and immigrants bring with them – determination, experience of struggle, commitment to freedom, hatred for the colonial and imperialist exploitation of their countries by Britain and other ‘great powers.’ Those refugees and immigrants are and will be leaders of the battle for progress and equality in Britain.

The rich & powerful minority that rules Britain tries to impose a national myth on the people they exploit & oppress – the myth that they are all united against other countries & peoples by a shared ‘national interest’ and British identity. That would mean Britain’s diverse population could never live in a society based on integration and equality. It is the basis of British racism.

Fortunately, however, British society is becoming more & more integrated every day – especially in the major cities and towns, in the working class, among the youth, and in a growing number of families. That is the basis of our strength and our fight for progress and equality. It is a nightmare for the government and the driving force of its attacks on democracy.

The government is establishing a dictatorship and moving fast towards Fascism

The current government is unlike anything this country has seen before. It is a FAR-RIGHT government – a government moving rapidly towards dictatorship and fascism. Other European countries saw such governments in the last century, and they are seeing them reappear now. The Trump movement in the USA is a similar development.

We must clear our heads of the idea that ‘it couldn’t happen here,’ and the belief that British democracy is exceptional & permanent. The creation of a dictatorship and the development of fascism are already happening here and happening fast.

One of the government’s first actions was to bring in a law that allows government bodies like the police, the Home Office, the army and the secret services to instruct their agents to commit crimes, without facing prosecution. It has effectively abolished the right of asylum and set up the ‘people trafficking’ deal to dump asylum seekers in Rwanda. It has brought in laws that give it control of how elections are run and make it more difficult for poor people, black and Asian people and young people to vote.

This government has already given the police huge powers to ban or stop protests and demonstrations. Now that workers are fighting back against growing poverty, this government is giving itself new powers to break strikes. It has already scrapped many of the legal rights people could use to challenge government decisions, and it is abolishing the Human Rights Act.

Its latest plan is to let government ministers ignore decisions of the law courts if they disagree with them, and Boris Johnson has ruled out emergency measures to support poor and vulnerable people as the price food and energy rise sharply during the coming winter. Johnson was quoted as saying in the first year of the Covid pandemic, “Let the bodies pile up in their thousands.” That is the government’s plan for the months ahead.

The fundamental weakness of this government

However, the government’s extreme plans and language cannot hide its fundamental weakness. This was the ‘Get Brexit Done’ government, and Brexit is a disaster that is getting worse by the day. Recent opinion polls and by-elections indicate a sharp fall in Conservative voters. ‘Fears’ about immigration have fallen sharply in opinion polls. More & more people see Brexit as a failure.

The government has no policies that can resolve this crisis. Its current leadership elections are exposing a party that is tearing itself apart. Its general direction is further and further to the extreme right, with more racist policies, but that is not solving its problems.

The government’s real support base is very small. Firstly, it is the financial parasites, like the private wealth funds that have taken over most of Britain’s care homes and nurseries and turned them into financial assets. This group is the main source of Conservative Party funding. It includes many government ministers and the capitalists who are benefitting directly from government corruption.

Secondly, there is the shrinking party membership (150,000 at the highest estimate) that is aging, 95% white and mostly living in rural areas and middle- class suburbs in the south of England – plus 357 MPs who are even more right-wing than the membership.

Thirdly, there is the increasingly active and violent rabble of fascists and semi-fascists, Covid deniers, anti-vaxxers, global heating deniers, followers of Nigel Farage and former members of UKIP and the EDL.

Those bases of support do not represent British society, especially not the working class, the big cities and the youth (or even most people from their ’40s and below). That is the majority of the population. It is too integrated to fall into line with the government’s policies, and it is where most white people are not racist enough to back the current government’s policies.

Resistance to immigration raids and deportation, and strikes against pay cuts & poverty, are both growing in those communities.

The government and the ruling class are divided but none of them have any solution to the economic & political crisis. They cannot go on ruling in the old ‘British democratic’ way – and the poor & oppressed are demonstrating in action that they cannot go on living in the way they are now.

Our real strength is in our communities & on the streets – We must Change the Balance of Power

The real opposition to the government is in our communities, workplaces, schools and on our streets.

We can see that in the victories in Evan Cook Close and Kenmure Street, Glasgow, and many other places where ‘Immigration Enforcement’ has been defeated. We see it in the growing strike action by low-paid workers, who include many immigrant, refugee, black, Asian & Latin American workers. We see it in the walkouts & protests by students against racist school & college management.

The women who resisted police violence to demonstrate against the police murder of Sarah Everard forced politicians to acknowledge the rampant, brutal misogyny of the police – and forced the removal of London police chief Cressida Dick.

The militant street level action against global heating (along with burning houses & fields) has focused much greater attention on a government and a system that would rather let the world burn than lose a penny of profit.

Those struggles are united by a profound loss of faith in the present system, and a growing awareness that the issues they are fighting on (racism, poverty and so on) have a common cause. To a greater or lesser extent, they imply an urgent need to get rid of this government, even if that is not explicit. These militant struggles demonstrate the potential for a movement to Bring Down the Government.

To build that movement it is necessary to bring the struggles together in on the basis that, firstly, we all need to see the end of this government, and secondly, that this can only be achieved through mass action and not through a parliamentary or legal process.

We are past the point where we can reasonably hope to get a change for the better by relying on the ballot box. A general election now will be run on the government’s anti-democratic rules. It is unlikely to happen until 2024 and by then the political and economic crisis will almost certainly be worse. Even if the government loses, we will have a Starmer-style Labour government or a weak coalition. In that situation the more openly fascist forces could become a far more serious threat.

We will bring down the government by changing the balance of power between the government, the rich & powerful and state bodies like the Home Office on one side, and the exploited, oppressed and poor majority on the other side. On a small scale that is what happened in Evan Cook Close on 11th June.

The government will fall when the movement has undermined its ability to govern, sent it into crisis, and deepened the divisions in the ruling class. Then the anti-Brexit capitalists might come out openly against the government, or the established political system will go into crisis in some other way. In the end there will be a general election – but it will be because of the power of a movement that has changed the balance of power and aroused hopes for change, not on terms set by the government.

Always Speak the Plain Truth About Racism – Fight to Win, By Any Means Necessary

Brexit was a victory for racism. That was confirmed by the surge in racist attacks and abuse that accompanied the 2016 referendum campaign and escalated after the vote. That vote was a boost to the Far Right and led the election of Johnson’s government in December 2019.

None of that was inevitable. It was the result of the confusion and failure of leadership on the Left, which principally means the Labour Party.

At the time of the referendum Labour had a new, more left-wing leadership under Jeremy Corbyn. Hundreds of thousands of new members joined the party, many of them young people. This new leadership could have taken the political high ground and led a bold anti-racist campaign against Brexit. Johnson, Farage and the right-wing Tories were unashamedly stirring up racist prejudice against immigrants and refugees. Labour could have defended immigrant rights and the free movement of people. That would have sent a clear, strong message, energised their supporters and brought dynamic new forces into Labour.

Instead, the Labour leadership made a conscious decision to avoid the issues of racism and immigrant-bashing that are the driving force behind Brexit. After the referendum, that culminated in Corbyn instructing Labour MPs to vote for ending the free movement of people.

By the first half of 2019 opinion polls consistently showed a majority against Brexit. The Labour leadership missed a second chance to change history, but by September the Far Right had taken over the Conservative Party and it was too late anyway. In the December general election the radical policies on housing, public ownership, the NHS etc, which had won Labour so much support in the 2017 election, were not enough to avoid a humiliating defeat.

Whether consciously or not, the motion passed by Camberwell and Peckham Labour Party is not only a challenge to Keir Starmer, but to the legacy of the Corbyn leadership.

Now it is the Brexit government that looks weak and incompetent, even though it has accumulated a huge assortment of dictatorial powers. Those powers seem small beside the anger it has inspired and the enemies it has accumulated, through its cruelty, its racism, its responsibility for so many deaths and so much suffering, its naked corruption and its arrogant display of entitlement.

A new and growing wave of struggles is fighting on many fronts but united against the same enemy, and by what Martin Luther King called “The fierce urgency of Now.”  

A largely new, more integrated and youthful generation of struggle has come forward, ready to take militant action and fight to win by any means necessary.

We may not know each other or speak the same languages, but together we will fight this racist government and its agents – on our streets, in our schools and colleges, in our workplaces, in detention centres and crossing the Channel in small boats.

And together we will win.

To all of you, Movement for Justice sends this message:

There is no better reason to speak the truth about racism and the character of this government, or to resist the laws of the rich and powerful, than to bring down this government and prevent the rise of a fascist dictatorship.          

Open Letter by #Jamaica50 families: to Jamaican High Commissioner

Open letter signed by 51 individuals & family members affected by mass deportation charter flights to Jamaica.

This open letter was sent to the High Commissioner on Monday 4th April 2022. We are yet to receive a response.
You can sign your support for this letter on our change.org petition.

Open Letter: To His Excellency Mr Seth George Ramocan 

We are individuals and families in the UK who have been suffering under this government’s racist hostile environment for years. Our fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, partners, grandparents and children have been subject to racist demonisation, torturous detention and unjust deportations.

We need you to stand up for your citizens facing racism & injustice in the UK. We need you to refuse to accept charter flight deportations and reinstate your agreement that no one who came to the UK as a child should face deportation. We are asking you to support our call for an immigration amnesty, so that we can live free and equally.

On 27th April 2022 at 4pm we will be coming to the High Commission with Movement for Justice, to speak out about these injustices, to make our voices heard. We invite you to come out and speak with us, to accept our letter in person, to listen and make a stand. (Facebook event)

There has been NO JUSTICE for our Windrush Generation, only pathetic apologies and promises that have led nowhere. People have died waiting for compensation. We are forced to jump through hoops like performing animals to prove our right to compensation[1], our right to be here.

The descendants of the Windrush Generation, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, brought here as children or born in the UK suffer racism at every stage of life. We face discrimination in schools, we are criminalised from childhood, we are stereotyped and degraded, we are treated as animals. The open, blatant racism and stereotypes of our community in the early 00’s[2] have not gone away, they’ve just been absorbed into government policy.

Many of us and our children, were groomed into criminal activity in childhood[3], never treated as victims, only as criminals. Then we face deportation to a country that is no longer home, where we are demonised and stigmatised by hostile media coverage[4] and where we face destitution and murder[5].

Our lives are here, our families are here, we are PROUD of our Jamaican heritage, we are PROUD of the role our communities have played rebuilding Britain, bringing hard work, music, culture, love and joy. We are Jamaican and we are British in all but the colour of our passport. But every day this government and the Home Office treat us as less than human.

The Jamaican people and government have taken a clear stand to further throw off the shackles of colonial rule, have demanded reparations for slavery[6]; we praise all those who have fought for this moment for decades. This country enslaved us, stole our labour, they broke our backs then told us we were one with them that we were British. Our elders came to rescue the ‘mother country’ in its time of need, they worked hard, they faced down the racists and now this country throw their descendants out like rubbish. Enough.

The UK government keeps on with their unjust charter flights, spending tens of thousands of pounds to deport a handful of people[7]. The charter flights are by their nature brutal and unjust. We are swept up in a racist dragnet of our communities, we are imprisoned and given just 5 days to find representation and build a case. The majority of us are not put on that plane because we have lawful grounds to remain[8], yet every year, twice or three times a year we are put through this torture. Immigration officers and police barging into our homes, terrorising our children who are left with nightmares and mental health difficulties[9]

Thousands of children across the UK go through this, the constant fear their father will be taken away from them, the despair of knowing this country does not want us, does not care for us. Then there’s those who have been deported, barely surviving in Jamaica, unable to work, at risk of exploitation and murder, living in fear. Desperately searching for working Wi-Fi so they can see their children over a shaky connection, trying to comfort their children and partner without being able to put their arms around them.[10]

So many of us have to survive without the right to work, unable to care for our families, deepening our depression and despair. The Home Office want us to commit crime, they want us to give up hope, that’s what the racist hostile environment policies are designed to do – force people to leave[11]. But in all this horror we have found hope and strength in each other, in organisation and community. Every time there is a charter flight we stand together; we organise with Movement for Justice and we have made the truth of this injustice known[12]. We need our Jamaican government, our people back home, to stand with us in this struggle.

This government have shown they have no regard not only for decency and human rights but for the law. They routinely breach peoples Human Rights and when called out on that by the courts, their response is not to act more humanely, but to change the law. That is what they are doing with the Nationality and Borders Bill, which will deny us even the smallest legal protections such as trafficking/modern day slavery protections. A Bill which has been roundly condemned as breaching international law and treaties[13]. Judicial Review is our only means of having our voices heard in the courts at these desperate moments yet this government is working on limiting those rights[14]. They are criminalising asylum seekers and view us all as no more than “red meat’[15]to throw to their racist voter base. Immigrants & asylum seekers are not human beings to this racist government, we are seen as scapegoats for a failing government.

We know you are aware of this injustice; we know you have stepped in to try and stand up for the people who came here as children. We know the UK government and Home Office has treated you appallingly by sending a flight even when you have explicitly called for it to be stopped because of COVID risk[16]

We also know that the Jamaican government CAN refuse to accept these flights, CAN make permanent the agreement that no one who came to the UK as a child should ever be deported. We know our closest neighbour; Ireland has introduced an immigration amnesty[17] so we also know this is possible.  It’s time for change.

We hope to see you on the 27th April.

All of the 51 signatories below either directly experienced detention and the risk of charter flight deportation to Jamaica or they are a family member of someone who has faced that trauma (for public release their names have been anonymised):

1. JP

2. FS 

3. AF

4. NP

5. MM

6. PJ 

7. MS

8. FM

9. EP

10. NS

11. IH

12. SR

13. LR

14. BS

15. MR

16. SB

17/18. M & AB

19. DJ

20. TM

21. GB

22. MW 

23. AW

24. LP

25. TT 

26. WH 

27/28. C & DB

29. LR

30. LP

31. CB

32. RG 

33. AV 

34. MW

35. WF 

36. LPL

37. AC 

38. LS 

39. LRM 

40. SE

41. NR 

42. RB

43. RH 

44. TH

45/46. KF & PD 

47. AM 

48. SRR 

49. RS 

50. PD 

51. SS

[1] https://www.voice-online.co.uk/news/uk-news/2021/11/25/windrush-compensation-scheme-slammed-by-mps/

[2] https://www.thenational.scot/news/20008635.boris-johnson-published-article-saying-jamaicans-mind-pea-editing-spectator/

[3] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/trafficking-victims-county-lines-deportation-jamaica-home-office-uk-b1954502.html

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/12/ripped-from-my-family-deportee-struggles-cope-jamaica-chevon-brown

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/may/09/revealed-five-men-killed-since-being-deported-uk-jamaica-home-office

[6] https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/jamaicans-protest-slavery-reparations-ahead-visit-by-british-royals-2022-03-22/

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/nov/11/uk-deportation-flight-four-onboard-raises-questions-viability-jamaica

[8] https://www.thejusticegap.com/jamaica50-deportation-charter-flights-and-access-to-justice/

[9] https://www.bigissue.com/news/social-justice/children-of-deported-people-are-developing-ptsd-and-depression-report-finds/

[10] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/shine-a-light/do-your-parenting-by-skype-uk-tells-fathers-being-deported-to-jama/

[11] https://www.thejusticegap.com/20996-2/

[12] https://www.bigissue.com/news/activism/they-want-to-take-your-soul-the-race-to-stop-priti-patels-jamaica-deportation-flight/

[13] https://www.paih.org/the-most-racist-legislation-of-our-lifetime-the-nationality-and-borders-bill

[14] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/oct/31/this-reform-of-judicial-review-will-put-the-government-above-the-law

[15] https://inews.co.uk/news/what-is-operation-red-meat-boris-johnsons-plan-rescue-premiership-explained-1404138

[16] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/aug/10/jamaica-calls-deportation-flight-from-uk-halted-covid-fears

[17] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/immigration-amensty-ireland-b2006737.html

Cross-Channel refugees win major victory in Court of Appeal: It is not a crime to steer a refugee boat across the Channel

Quash ALL the convictions – Free the refugees from prison!

Crown Prosecution Service must drop all pending prosecutions of cross-Channel refugees and refuse any further prosecutionsSIGN & SHARE THE PETITION!

Refugees who have risked their lives crossing the Channel to seek asylum have been slandered, persecuted and politically exploited by Johnson’s racist government. Now they have won an important victory. Yesterday the Court of Appeal ruled that it is not a crime for refugees to steer small boats across the Channel, to do their best to keep themselves and fellow refugees safe so they can exercise their legal right to claim asylum in Britain.  

The decision came following a special hearing last week, in which the Court of Appeal brought together four claims made separately by cross-Channel refugees. There were at least seven other refugees who were determined to fight for justice and waiting for  the outcome of  this hearing. They all have been or still are imprisoned  for that supposed ‘crime.’ The quashed all four convictions, making it almost certain the other seven will be quashed in January. 

Movement for Justice (MFJ) welcomes this decision. It is a defence of human rights and the UN Refugee Convention, made in defiance of a government that is tearing up asylum rights and  human rights, and under the threat of a new Nationality & Borders Bill – the purpose of which is to change the law so that it will, automatically, be a crime for any refugee to cross the Channel or seek to enter the UK without a legal document. 

Politically, yesterday’s decision is a challenge to the whole direction in which this Far Right, authoritarian government is moving – and not only on asylum and immigration policy.

Since 2019 the Home Office has used photographic evidence from drones to get the police to arrest refugees who steered boats across the Channel, and then treated them as ‘people traffickers.’ That accusation was obviously false and the Home Office knew it was false. Nevertheless, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) agreed to prosecute the refugees who the Home Office identified.

The legal principles of today’s decision were actually established by a Court of Appeal hearing in April this year – in the case of Fouad Kakaei, an Iranian asylum seeker. Over the next few months prosecutions were dropped in another eleven cases, and in July the CPS announced publicly that it would not be bringing any further prosecutions against cross-Channel refugees. 

However, the Home Office has continued to target refugees who steered boats. The CPS soon fell into line and brought more prosecutions. There are still many hearings scheduled: the next one is on January 4th and the list includes the case of MFJ member Nabil Abdulmajid in May.

The plain truth is that the government and the Home Office have consciously ignored the legal decisions and acted as though the new Borders Bill was already on the statute books. The CPS has agreed to be their accomplice. Canterbury Crown Court, where every one of these cases has been heard, is a racist production line churning out guilty verdicts for the Home Office. 

This is the state of affairs under a regime that despises democracy and humanity; it has no respect for us or even for the law. It sees all such concerns as obstacles to its political and economic objectives. In that context yesterday’s decision in the Court of Appeal can be described as a defence of democracy and human rights. It has fired a kind of warning shot at the development of dictatorship and fascism. It further undermines the tattered legitimacy of this government and its policies. 

The full significance of this decision will become a reality if we understand the authority it will give a refugee, immigrant and youth led movement to resist the Home Office and make the Borders Bill unworkable.

We have the advantage that Britain’s ruling elite is increasingly divided – important sections of the judiciary against the Home Office, different sections of capitalist businesses against the government or against each other, and the government increasingly divided against itself. Our movement must learn how to build collective action to take advantage of these divisions in order to increase the power and unity of the poor, exploited and oppressed. 

The Home Office, the Court of Appeal and the CPS are at loggerheads on many fronts. On the Borders Bill and the Home Office’s general anti-immigrant measures they are in conflict over the central public plank in the government’s political agenda. We must demand that the CPS grows a backbone and refuses to bow any longer to the government’s demands that it ignores the decisions of the courts. Specifically, we demand that the CPS immediately drops all prosecutions of refugees who have steered boats across the Channel and refuses to bring any new prosecutions. 

MFJ demonstrating outside the Court of Appeal on day two of the hearing.

British Government Guilty of Racist Mass Murder – OPEN THE BORDERS NOW! The Borders Bill must be stopped or made unworkable by mass resistance.

MFJ Statement on deaths of refugees in the Channel on Wednesday 24 November 20221

The refugees who died in the Channel on 24/11/21, whose true number may never been known, were victims of a politically motivated crime against humanity committed by the British government. Movement for Justice declares that Boris Johnson’s government is guilty of racist mass murder. 

The policies and actions of this government made yesterday’s tragedy inevitable, sooner or later. Its actions have made the deaths of many smaller groups of cross-Channel refugees inevitable over the last three years. The government actually instigated a policy of pushbacks at sea whereby big Border Force boats are to physically block small refugee boats and force them out of UK waters, action so life-threateningly dangerous that even their own officials are afraid to carry it out. 

Of course, they were ready with their prepared responses to Wednesday’s deaths. With solemn faces, they put the blame on ‘people smugglers’ and France. Most of the media has followed that line. 

What hypocrisy! People smugglers are only in business thanks to the racist policies of Britain and other European governments. They are the offspring of Fortress Britain and Fortress Europe. As for France – the refugees were trying to seek asylum in Britain; that was their right, and they died because the UK government used every means possible to deny them that right.

Defeat the Borders Bill – Defeat the Far Right Government

These deaths came as the Government is pushing a new Nationality & Borders Bill through Parliament. This Bill takes the racist, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee Hostile Environment policies of previous governments to new depths of barbarism. It will tear up established rights and safeguards, including the United Nations Refugee Convention. Without doubt it will lead to the deaths of many more refugees and immigrants, in Britain and trying to get here. 

Johnson heads a far right government that sees this Borders Bill as the most important public, political element in a raft of repressive anti-democratic laws. It isn’t just another immigration bill, it is a move towards a more dictatorial form of government – and in reality towards fascism.

That makes the response of most liberal and charity groups to the deaths in the Channel thoroughly alarming. They are calling on this government to establish ‘safe legal routes’ for asylum seekers. The founder of the well-known refugee rights charity, Care for Calais, is even saying that the Home Office should set up a ‘screening centre’ in Calais to decide which potential asylum seekers could go on to pursue their claim in Britain.

Defend asylum rights, no to ‘safe legal routes’

Movement for Justice strongly opposes such proposals. ‘Safe legal routes’ is code for no-route at all. It effectively means ‘off-shoring’ the asylum process – a betrayal. The power to decide who can arrive would be used invisibly and entirely at the will of the political elite. There would be no opportunity for a challenge. Refugees only have a realistic chance of asserting their rights if they are in Britain, with a wider public that believes in the right of sanctuary. 

The government is truly afraid of the presence of determined, bold refugees in Britain, because these are people who took the initiative to get free rather than waste away in despair, as happens to generations of refugees who are stuck in the limbo of United Nations refugee camps. They have the most to contribute and teach the anti-racist communities and the poor and oppressed in Britain. 

That is why the government is so eager to off-shore the asylum process to concentration camps, where officials have dictatorial control to privately pick and choose who they deem ‘worthy’ of asylum, leaving the rest to languish for years in unseen squalor (and perhaps desperately hoping to get a place in one of the UN camp lotteries).

There would be no difference if this policy was operated by a Labour government. Any Labour leadership that implemented ‘safe legal routes’ would be a leadership committed to maintaining the same racist anti-immigrant system. Labour governments have in fact shared responsibility for this system since the 1960s. 

Labour’s current shadow Home Secretary has been attacking the government, not for its racism and cruelty, but for failing to stop large numbers of refugees crossing the Channel. He proposed to work with other governments to prevent refugees getting anywhere near the Channel. Many black, Asian and anti-racist Labour Party members are unhappy with the leadership. They must openly challenge those racist policies, not only in words and conference motions, but by joining the active resistance to make the Borders Bill unworkable.

Open the Borders of Britain and  Europe

Movement for Justice asserts that the only fair and progressive alternative to the persecution of cross-Channel refugees, and the government’s attempts to consolidate a Far Right racist base, is to Open the Borders

Opening the Borders is what hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are actually doing around the world because they have no alternative. It’s what refugees are doing in the Channel, the Mediterranean, the deserts of north Africa and on the southern borders of the USA. It will continue and grow because mass migration is a global rebellion against an increasingly unequal and unjust world. It is a rebellion against tyranny, poverty, racism, imperialist wars and global heating.

Open the Borders is not an abstract  demand on the British government; it is a Call to Action for a movement of immigrants, refugees, black, Asian & Muslim communities, and youth. It means building that movement on both sides of the Channel and across Europe, to counter and resist the activities of the Home Office, stop deportations, create real safe routes and build & defend real asylum communities. We must pull down the walls of Fortress Britian and Fortress Europe.

Building that movement is how we can best honour those who have sought freedom and justice and died in the Channel and around the world

Picture credits: Peter Marshall (mylondondiary.co.uk)

Build Workers resistance and non co-operation with the racist Nationality & Borders Bill NOW! UNISON must allow workers to vote!

The trade unions must be prepared to lead, organise and mobilise resistance to this bill, to support their members who will be asked to participate in facilitating concentration camps, mass deportations and racist discrimination. RESIST the Nationality & Borders Bill!

The following is an appeal drafted by MFJ chair Antonia Bright, in her capacity as UNISON Black Members Officer at SOAS. Appealing against a decision to rule out of order the SOAS motion to UNISON London Regional Council to organise resistance to the most draconian and racist immigration legislation in British history, the Nationality and Borders Bill. This appeal and the motion lays down a strategy that is essential to building the resistance to this racist legislation. The trade unions must be prepared to lead, organise and mobilise resistance to this bill, to support their members who will be asked to participate in facilitating concentration camps, mass deportations and racist discrimination. Please spread the motion, pass it in your branch, in your union. If you are a member of UNISON pass it in your branch.

Appeal for SOAS Unison’s motion Black Members Against racially divisive “Nationality and Borders Bill” to be heard at Regional Council.

To the Regional Secretary.

SOAS Branch object to the ruling to deny Regional Council the opportunity to discuss and vote on our motion ‘Black Members Against racially divisive “Nationality and Borders Bill”.’ The motion urgently tackles the dangerously racially divisive piece of proposed legislation while it is at committee stage, not yet law. We appeal the ruling. We were informed that the motion would not be included on the agenda on the grounds that:

“the union cannot support activity that is beyond the law, as referred to in the fourth action point”.

The fourth action point in question calls for London Region to 

“Work with Labour Link to support those local authorities / councils that make public pledge that they will resist collaboration with the Home Office on its targeting of immigrants”.

We make the following three requests:

  1. We request that the motion be accepted on to the agenda for the Regional Council meeting now timed for the 2nd November.
  2. We request a copy of the legal advice on which this claim is asserted, and a list of which laws it is claimed would be breached by supporting locally elected councils that pledge to resist the targeting of our immigrant communities. What is the specific ‘activity that is beyond the law’, given that the immediate Bill referred to has not become law, and many local councils have made similar such pledges?
  3. We request a meeting with whomever made the decision where we can make our challenge. 

There is nothing in the motion to justify taking the extreme unilateral position of ruling it ‘out of order’. 

Firstly, the assertion that support of local authority’s resistance to Home Office activity is equal to support of ‘activity beyond the law’ is a speculation that the decision-maker has chosen to imply – it is not what the motion actually states. Loose speculation of this kind is dangerous to our unions’ democracy; it could be applied to any motion that ever seeks to resist any of the abhorrent things the government of the day may try to impose despite there being many ways to resist and challenge such things. 

In Higher Education we had resistance to “Prevent”, for example. The legally binding obligations placed on educational institutions by Prevent, did not stretch to forcing those institutions to force staff to carry out harassment of particularly Muslim students, though that was the implication. Unison HE Conference debated supporting members who refused to comply with the demands from state powers through Prevent legislation.[1] There is always scope for resisting discriminatory practices and asserting protections, which we should be using when the objective of an activity pushed by the government is the blanket discrimination or harassment of particular oppressed groups.

But unlike with Prevent, this motion is talking about a Bill that has not even passed. It is NOT law – it can’t be ‘broken’ since it’s not even clear what it is capable of legally imposing. It can however be fought, withdrawn, amended, and delayed. The ruling against discussing this motion inherently presumes that councils will have no lawful means to resist the racist and sexist outcomes of what they might be asked to do in the furtherance of the hostile environment policies. 

In fact, the Bill is already demonstrably likely to face legal challenges for years to come.[2] That challenge could conceivably come from local authorities, or dare we say, trade unions. We are not discussing settled law, it is precarious unclear immigration law which is an area where Home Office activities have been found unlawful in lots of areas including the workplace.[3]

Action point 4 anticipates that councils will be faced with choices and will be asked to do things that they have the power to refuse. It would mean Unison working through its Labour links to further the very resistance that is already underway against the anti-immigrant Hostile Environment policies. Councils including Hackney,[4] Lewisham,[5] and around 100 others have refused to assist the Home Office.[6] That is a sign of the strength of the international, integrated communities they represent and serve. 

While so many local council’s have already been resisting collaboration with the demands of the Home Office’s racist hostile policy, why are we now being told this is unsupportable? What a weak message to send a parliament as they weigh up this deplorable racist attack on refugees and Black communities, alongside major attacks on the right to protest, Judicial Review and legal aid. No wonder we have MP’s openly envisaging their path towards getting rid of the Human Right Act too. 

This is the time we need to state where we stand – as the RNLI did by stating what should be obvious: that their obligation is to rescue without discrimination; and that is not compatible with any law that tries to order them to let human beings drown in the sea. The local authorities have public sector duties too and are accountable to communities; they are in a position to challenge and to resist demands on them to breach human rights. 

If locally accountable councillors actually use what powers they have (the few powers central government have not yet destroyed), to resist measures that the Home Office may attempt to impose that would racially target and discriminate against immigrants, turn public services into a trap for the harassment of Black people and of non-citizens, lead to racial division and cause real damage to their community worse than what the hostile environment already has, clearly they should be supported and celebrated.

Regional Council is our voice. It is for us as members to raise debate, in this case to call for Unison to be clear where its support lies before our members, (which includes several serving as local councillors), are faced with the dilemma of how to uphold their obligations and ethics to help and serve our communities without discrimination, in the face of a political pressure to harass and stigmatise immigrants including refugees. 

The meaning and necessity of ‘Resistance’.

Our motion express the strength we want to convey. Discriminatory laws get repealed or changed when oppressed communities build resistance, with no guarantee of achieving justice. Universally, resistance is a means of struggle essential to fighting oppression. 

The Nationality and Borders Bill, if it passes, would not be the first time a British parliament has attempted to codify into law a set of deeply racist or bigoted ideas that opened a section of our society to legally sanctioned harassment and abuse. Look at the whole series of immigration and nationality laws that have systematically written the Black out of ‘Britishness’. Look at Section 28 that made an offence out of encouraging openness towards gay sexuality and empowered school leaders to drive out gay teachers. Had Unison been asked to declare “we support teachers and students who resist collaboration with the authorities implementing Section 28”, a motion to that effect would have shut down as ‘out of order’. What a way to prolong the misery suffered living under unjust laws. 

Without resistance to unjust laws there would be no fighting racism, segregation or apartheid, there would be no defeating anti-gay laws, or the legalised oppression of women. We fight unjust and oppressive laws, or we give way to even greater oppression. Fighting unjust laws begins with resistance, the means of which is decided by the context and what power exists.

Our motion opens a legitimate debate that must be had, about the nature of the Nationality and Borders Bill, its relation to past experiences of resistance to racism and unjust legislation, and the actions of local councils and communities currently resisting the racist hostile environment for immigrants. This is a trade union issue, recognised by the TUC statement quoted in the motion.

To block this motion by claiming that a trade union should not support resistance to a proposed law which seeks to introduce concentration camps for asylum seekers among other reprehensible measures, is offensive to the very historic struggles that the organisations of the oppressed have led and which we ‘celebrate’ in words if not in deeds. 

[1] Unison HE Conference 2012, Motion 16: “WE WON’T SPY ON OUR STUDENTS”

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/12/priti-patel-borders-bill-breaches-law-human-rights

[3] https://dpglaw.co.uk/high-court-declares-home-office-policy-unlawful/

[4] Hackney Gazette: “Hackney Council pledges to ‘Support not Deport’ rough sleepers”; https://news.hackney.gov.uk/hackney-council-pledges-to-support-not-deport-rough-sleepers/

[5] “London Council Rejects ‘Cruel’ New Immigration Rules”; https://www.localgov.co.uk/London-council-rejects-cruel-new-immigration-rules/51550

[6] The Independent: “More than 100 councils and charities vow to boycott Home Office policy to deport rough sleepers”; https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/councils-charities-rough-sleeping-deportation-home-office-b1898240.html

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